Nomadder Where You Go

Nomadland

I can’t even remember the last time I reviewed a new movie on this blog, but let’s see if I still remember how to do it. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been a lot of good movies to come out post-pandemic, since we were able to put together our Top Ten Movies of 2020 lists without it feeling like we were scraping the bottom of the barrel. But it’s still been a while since I’ve seen a movie that has affected me enough that it was able to transcend the fact that I was still stuck at home watching it, even though it’s a film featuring the expanse of the American West that you’d prefer to see on a big screen. But whatever format you’re seeing it on, aside from the prettiness of its natural imagery, Nomadland is also filled with a ton to chew on in terms of its themes, topicality, and of course empathy. Continue reading

2020 Music Resuscitated: Live Forever

Bartees Strange – Live Forever

Speaking of more traditional indie rock, here’s an artist acutely aware of how to turn indie’s status quo on its head. Yet at the same time, Bartees Strange also seems just as aware of the power of a rip-roaring rock song, as most clearly demonstrated by “Mustang”, easily one of my favorite songs of the year. Much like Phoebe Bridgers’ “Kyoto” from earlier this year, it’s the kind of song that brought me back to a simpler time (like, say 2010) when an indie artist could have a crossover hit. I’m sure I would have been pretty pumped for just an album full of songs like this, but I’m just as intrigued by all the different genre-bending detours on Live Forever. Continue reading

2020 Music Resuscitated: Impossible Weight

Deep Sea Diver – Impossible Weight

Most of the albums I’ve been giving shout-outs to or will end up on my Top 10 have received a decent amount of national attention, but for today’s review, here’s a more local favorite. Not that Deep Sea Diver doesn’t deserve to be a little more nationally known, but it’s hard to say I would have heard of them if it wasn’t for Seattle indie station KEXP championing this Seattle-based artist. Also, it’s a little hard to call anything from the Emerald City “local” at this point, since the pandemic has caused this year to be the longest period I’ve spent away from the Pacific Northwest. But listening to the always-reliable KEXP online has been a nice way of staying connected to the region, which for all its changes in the past 10 years can still churn out great indie rock from time to time. Continue reading

2020 Music Resuscitated: Imploding The Mirage

The Killers – Imploding The Mirage

It’s hard to say why exactly I was compelled to check out the latest Killers album, other than the fact that it was the first time I’d heard music critics have anything enthusiastic to say about a Killers album in god knows when. I don’t think I’ve listened to a single Killers album since 2006’s Sam’s Town, though I feel like John’s up-and-down relationship with the band being documented on this blog has kept me in the loop enough. Still, they are a band (much like The Strokes) that have only had their legacy solidify in recent years, as “Mr. Brightside” feels like about as ubiquitous of a millennial anthem as you could find. So maybe — to use the verbal bombast of a Killers song — it was time for a reckoning. Continue reading

2020 Music Resuscitated: Forever, Ya Girl

KeiyaA – Forever, Ya Girl

I kept waiting around for a great R&B album to come out this year, and it never really quite happened. Though, it’s not a genre I keep that strict of tabs on, so maybe there was something I missed that I’ll be grooving to in a year or two. But even if that is the case, I’m guessing I’ll probably be looking forward to future releases by KeiyaA in a year or two, since this homespun debut is certainly something striking. I’m not sure if it quite fits the bill of what I was looking for in a great modern R&B album this year, but considering how its unusualness kept me constantly coming back for more, it’s not far off. Continue reading

2020 Music Resuscitated: The New Abnormal

The Strokes – The New Abnormal

Back when this album came out, me and John were planning on bringing back our Rokk Talk podcast to do a deep dive into The Strokes, one of our most formative bands. We never ended up doing it, possibly due to the general inertia that the pandemic has wrought on all of us or possibly due to the somewhat unexciting nature of this album. This isn’t to say that The New Abnormal is an all-out bad Strokes album — I’d still put it ahead of the letdown machine that was 2013’s Comedown Machine as well as 2006’s career-tanking First Impressions of Earth. Though after a seven-year gap, it would have been nice to see The Strokes come back in a big way, while The New Abnormal sees them coming back in more of a mixed-bag kind of way. Continue reading

2020 Music Resuscitated: No Dream

Jeff Rosenstock – No Dream

Well, we’re almost through another year, though I don’t think anyone will be sad to see the miserable dumpster fire that was 2020 come to an end later this month. As is typical of most years, I’ll be taking a look at a grab bag of albums that I didn’t get around to reviewing on the blog. While I managed to keep a pretty good handle on reviewing my favorite albums (or at least mentioning them on podcasts or Quarantine Diaries), there were still a few that slipped through the cracks. But most importantly, we need these posts to make sure this year doesn’t feature our lowest post count ever (I got my eyes on you, 2018). 2020 brought us a lot of lows, but let’s try to prevent another one.

Talking about this album may feel a little redundant, since I did talk about Jeff Rosenstock earlier this year in my Top Ten Albums of the ’10s as well as a shout-out to his 2019 live album. However, I never actually talked about the album that he released in May, possibly because I wrote it off a bit at first. Fortunately, 2020 has been a year with plenty of opportunity to give things you didn’t pay too much attention to earlier a second look, because what the hell else did we have to do? So while No Dream initially struck me as a very solid Rosenstock album (if one that didn’t feature any huge steps forward), it has grown on me due to a great mixture of Rosenstock’s ability to be loud and energetic paired with a melodic craft often underseen in punk rock. Continue reading